Work has always been considered as a source of living for everybody in the world regardless of many factors which may be present. People started working long ago before introduction of money as a way of appreciating workers. However, majority of workers do not derive full satisfaction from their jobs as a result of several factors which include and not limited to frustrations from managers, poor payment and unfavorable working conditions. These worker-limiting factors have been in existence for a long period of time pulling down efforts of many employees of generating a living from work. As a result, individuals and groups of people have been involved in activism to push for respect of workers rights. One of the ways through which this target has been achieved has been through unionization of workers in industries and other firms which higher workers for production services.
Although most union workers have been on the forefront in protecting the rights of workers, they have also met obstacles which have hindered their successful address of workers rights. It is important to mention that trade unions have in recent years started gaining commanding power in most parts of the world. Andrew Murray focuses on labour unions as a source of working motivation and hope for many workers. In his book, A new labour nightmare, Andrew notes that efforts of many trade unions are usually undermined by leaders who are usually appointed to represent workers (Murray, 2003). He refers to such leaders as ‘‘awkward squad’’ that fail to understand their role in serving workers. He mentions Bob Crow, Tony Woodley, Derek Simpson and Billy Hays as union leaders who have been portrayed by the media as those interested in sabotaging the mission of newly founded applecart. Labour force has to be well guarded with laws which should protect the interests of workers. He gives a glimpse to fire fighters’ wrangles which have been witnessed in the recent passed and manifold opposition to Iraq invasion in which the United States played a fundamental role. It is worth noting that Murray’s prominence when he served as the chair of the Stop War Coalition. It was during this time that many trade unions got affiliated to the coalition and clime to act id the war started. Although nothing happened after the war broke in Iraq, Murray remained focused in keeping out any form of political view from the coalition. He achieved this target by working with Socialist Workers Party.
The role of unionization of workers cannot be undermined at any given moment in life. The author notes that the New labour wanted to serve as a link to trade unions although the party was shortchanged by a number of people led by the Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair which occurred after the death of John Smith in 1994.This implies that as much as workers may wish to be represented by unions, this hope is sometimes suppressed by those in power especially political leaders. Circumstances greatly determine the actions of union leaders with an aim of either benefiting themselves or for the purpose of serving workers. Murray notes the awkward squad was very supportive during the New Labour conference which was held in 2002 but terribly failed to act in 2003 when the Gulf war broke in Iraq (Murray, 2003). They completely failed to show any form of opposition to the War which widely affected the labour force. In addition to this, they could resist high increase fees that were to be felt by workers and salary increments never at same time click their mind.
Many trade unions were interested in curbing the class struggle which greatly determined the status of workers. This meant that workers’ rights were observed depending on the status of individuals with less consideration to lower class workers. Murray interestingly compares operations of trade unions to what used to happen during Thatcher’s time. In other words political leaders had dominion over all activities of trade unions and determined the fate of workers in terms of decisions and laws which would either promote or undermine the welfare of workers (Murray, 2003). He notes Tony Blair’s role as the Prime Minister from the time he was appointed to power in 1997. Like many leaders around the globe who do not recognize the need for trade unions in helping workers sought to be the cause of disconnection between workers and trade unions. According to Murray, current leaders who are considered young and focused have shown no interest in giving priority to workers’ rights welfare. He adds that most the new generation of leaders has shown negligible roles ending the existing link with the New Labour. Murray affirms that the only of keeping unions alive was to challenge New Labour and aim lat going back party which was considered to be something real.
With workers’ welfare at heart, Murray adds that leaders that people who claim to be workers’ leaders can really play a major role in ruining workers’ rights. He focuses on how New Labour victimized firefighters giving Andy Gilchrist as one of leaders who did live up to the call of workers and completely missed the point concerning the whole issue (European Strategic Planning Federation, Society for Long Range Planning, Strategic Planning Society, 2004). Andy and some of his colleagues did see the need of confronting New Labour leading to an agreement which gave way to de-linking from Labour. Having understood his great mistakes in abandoning workers’ rights, Andy mysteriously missed an important conference only to turn up a few days later in Portugal. It is important to mention that workers can easily be undermined by leaders. For instance, a leader of workers, Bob Crow argued that New Labour was a full supporter of capitalist party. Despite the fact that railway workers played a major role in finding Labour Party in early 1990s, their rights were not being taken care as a result of leaders who did not have feelings and workers’ interests at heart.
Although many union leaders usually have workers’ interests at heart, some are usually out to undermine any little efforts of uplifting workers through unions. The author uses Derek Simpson who earlier served in the Communist as a person who targeted to ensure that the good work of fighting for workers’ rights which was started by his predecessor in 1970s was not to be realized in future. One of the reasons why most leaders usually fail to address workers’ interests is the fact that most of them engage in competition among themselves at the expense of the sufferings and cries of hopeless workers under an a union umbrella. Derek Simpson spent a lot of time praising himself and claiming his superiority over his predecessor whom he thought that he would not fit in his highly placed rank. However, Murray critically analyzes the role played by Derek and observes that had not yet led any kind of fight aimed at improving workers’ rights and well being (Murray, 2003). As mentioned by the author, Derek led workers with an iron group that did not understand the need of addressing and fighting for employees’ rights through bold confrontation of those leaders who failed to honour up workers’ service call. With total dissatisfaction with the way Simpson carried out his roles, Murray considered him as one of the leaders who were not focused and could only see themselves without having humanitarian feelings for their immediate neighbours. He tells Murray that he was after seeing a Labour government continuing to serve people.
Like Murray, Billy Hays became prominent because of position on Iraq invasion. He strongly supported the Stop War coalition and believed in the existence of the Labour linkage. He was strongly convicted that the right time had come for people to reclaim the party adding that the working class were in no better position in undermining their efforts in ensuring better protection of all workers regardless of their monthly pay. He believed that the only way of achieving the target was through ignoring the New Labour which personally believed that it was after some mischief agenda for suffering workers (Murray, 2003). In deed the prosperity of any trade union or workers’ organization entirely depends on the commitment of leaders to the call to serve. Murray concludes his book by ‘revisiting’ the awkward squad. He considers the squad as the only panacea for the trouble which continues to torment British workers and their trade unions. He identifies lack of skills and inability to grasp political reality and principles as the main weak points for the squad making them qualify to be awkward. As deeply portrayed by the author, workers’ unions can only achieve their target trough their leaders.
European Strategic Planning Federation, Society for Long Range Planning, Strategic Planning Society. (2004). LRP: Long Range Planning. United Kingdom: Pergamon.
Murray, A. (2003). A new labour nightmare: the return of the awkward squad. London UK: Verso.